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In Their Own Words: Why Immigrant Worker Protections Must Be Extended

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 15:03:42 +0000

In Their Own Words: Why Immigrant Worker Protections Must Be Extended

Areli Zarate

A primary goal of the labor movement is to make every job in our country a good job. To do that, we must and we will stand with every worker in the fight for basic rights and dignity on the job. More than 1 million working people are in danger of having their work permits stripped away if the Trump administration ends the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs. This is unacceptable. We will fight for and with them just as they have fought for and with all of us.

The DACA and TPS programs help working people and they help the country. Here are just a few stories of union members whose lives have been changed because of these programs. Please send us your story of how DACA and TPS made your life better and helped you exercise your basic rights and find dignity on the job.

    Reyna Sorto, Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) member:

    Employers exploit immigrant workers because they think our fear will keep us silent from speaking out against abuses, even though TPS is not permanent, it does provide a level of protection that can give a worker strength to speak truth to power and denounce exploitative working conditions.

    Karen Reyes, DACAmented teacher in Austin, Texas, and member of AFT:

    DACA made me visible. It made me realize that those opportunities that I thought were not for me—were now possible. DACA made it possible for me to be able to find a job in teaching. It made it possible to be able to earn money to be help out my mom while she went through numerous health issues. DACA made it possible for me to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. DACA made me find my voice and made me be able to live without fear. We must #DefendDACA because after living here for 26 years—I am here to stay.

    Gerdine Vessagne, housekeeper in Miami Beach, Florida:

    TPS has allowed me to provide for my five children, including two back home and three born here. But this isn’t just about me. Over 50,000 Haitian nationals working in the U.S. have this protected status. We are the engine of Florida’s hospitality industry, much of which greatly depends on our labor.

    Cecilia Luis, housekeeper in Orlando, Florida.:

    I know a lot of people here that don't eat or sleep because they're worried they'll be sent back to Haiti. It's not as easy to leave when you're sending money to your family to help them survive. My God knows everything, and I'm asking him to speak to their hearts so they don't do this. A lot of people will suffer.

    Areli Zarate, DACAmented teacher in Austin, Texas:

    DACA allowed me the opportunity to come out of the shadows and lose the fear of deportation. I have a social security number and work permit which gives me the opportunity to follow my dream and teach. I am about to begin my fourth year of teaching with a big heart filled with love and passion for my profession. I am dedicated to my students and it's hard to see myself doing something else. Yet, every time I have to renew my DACA I am reminded that my status is temporary. I am currently pending a decision on my renewal and I am praying to God that I will be allowed to teach for another two years until my next renewal.

    Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights and Diversity, spoke for many working people in the hospitality industry:

    The American hospitality industry runs because of the women and men on DACA and TPS working in it. These immigrants prove their value to this country every day, and many have been living in and contributing to America for more than a decade. These men and women have deep roots in this country, and are longtime employees, spouses, parents, neighbors and community members. Losing DACA and TPS would destroy both their families and the hotel industry that is built on their work. We must extend TPS and protect DACA—for our sisters and brothers working under them, for their families and for the health of the American economy.

    These stories make it clear that the ability to exploit any worker undermines standards for all working people. Increasing the pool of vulnerable workers in our country directly threatens the labor movement’s mission of raising wages and improving working conditions. We call on our nation’s leaders to reverse the destructive course we are on and take these immediate steps to reduce the fear in our workplaces:

    • Defend DACA and protect this vital young workforce;
    • Continue TPS for all affected countries; and
    • Protect labor rights by preventing immigration enforcement from interfering with other important roles of government.

    The words of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sum it up:

    DACA and TPS holders are members of our families, our unions and our communities who have made positive contributions to our society for many years. We will not allow them to lose their rights and status. We will stand with them in the fight to defend these programs as a necessary part of our long-term struggle to ensure that all working people have rights at work and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and conditions.

    We call on the Trump administration to demonstrate a genuine commitment to lifting up the wages, rights and standards of all working people by acting to defend and extend vital DACA and TPS protections.

    Sign our petition today to stand up in support of DACA and TPS.

    Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:03

    Working People Respond to Domestic Terror in Virginia

    Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:53:10 +0000

    Working People Respond to Domestic Terror in Virginia

    Working people across the country were shocked by the act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white nationalists in Virginia on Saturday. Here are excerpts of how leaders for working family organizations responded:

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

    Yesterday in Charlottesville, Va., the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices. Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Donald Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry. My heart goes out to the victims, especially the family of those who lost their lives, including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. I pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

    Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays:

    Allow me to be clear—the working people of Virginia do not and will not stand for discrimination and hate in our communities. Yesterday's disgraceful display of beliefs from the alt-right was simply that—a disgrace to the citizens of the Commonwealth and all that we stand for. Virginia’s working families have fought long and hard to overcome the discriminatory policies of our past and to create an environment of inclusion and fairness in work places across the Commonwealth. We will continue to devote every ounce of our abilities to ensure that the rights and safety of all Virginians are preserved.

    Furthermore, our thoughts and prayers extend to each of the peaceful counter-protesters who were injured or killed in the resulting violence from yesterday’s rally. We also extend our deepest condolences to the Virginia State Police and the families of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke M.M. Bates. No working person expects this shift to be his last, but these brave men and thousands of other first responders put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe.

    AFT President Randi Weingarten and numerous educational leaders:

    We are angered and heartbroken by the largest open mobilization of white supremacists in the United States in decades. We grieve the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of other peaceful protesters against racism and anti-Semitism who, numbering in the thousands, courageously exercised their First Amendment rights in Charlottesville this weekend.

    At the same time, we are sick with the knowledge that the racist uprising they protested is of a piece with a long history of racist ideology and terrorism that has afflicted every region of our beloved country....

    We enjoin President Trump and his administration to take this opportunity to correct their course. They must reflect on their role in normalizing racism through statement and policy, and on their responsibility in creating the sense of moral license that enabled racist terrorism to manifest itself in the streets of Charlottesville and on the grounds of the University of Virginia. They must denounce white supremacy and white supremacist terrorism in the strongest terms....

    Most importantly, we call upon the president, state elected official, and all those in positions with the power to do so, to enforce the law, protect Americans who justifiably fear racist violence, and investigate these events and bring the perpetrators of racist hate crimes to justice.

    Read the full statement and list of educational leaders who endorsed it.

    Communications Workers of America (CWA):

    Members of the Communications Workers of America reject the vile actions and rhetoric of the white supremacists who paraded their hatred and bigotry this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. These evil actions, which President Trump couldn’t be bothered to condemn, instead offering a weak 'violence on many sides' throwaway line, resulted in the tragic death of a young woman and injuries to many more.

    Our government’s failure to condemn these evil people emboldens them, and sets us back in our determination to realize our goal of a nation where all people are respected, all have opportunity and all are full participants in our democracy.

    CWA members are determined to bring about that nation, and we will continue to work with our allies to ensure that hatred, racism and bigotry have no place in our nation. We also commend the law enforcement officers who stood together to end this demonstration of hate.

    Jobs With Justice:

    We grieve for the lives lost and pray for those critically injured because of the domestic terrorism committed in Charlottesville. Jobs With Justice condemns hatred, bigotry and violence against our friends and neighbors. Our hearts pour out to everyone in the Charlottesville community and those watching around the country traumatized by witnessing such barbaric acts of racism.

    We recognize the progress achieved as communities finally remove the white supremacist monuments that stain our country. When tearing down symbols of hate sparks such vitriolic backlash, the work to fully dismantle racism from our society is far from over. Our nation needs more healing, unifying and transformation to live up to our values of respect, equality, diversity and freedom....

    The Jobs With Justice network is called upon to combat the violent and exclusionary systems of white nationalism and white supremacy smoldering in our communities and institutions more than ever. We demand a future full of love, equity, diversity, peace, safety and opportunity. It is up to us to build the America that we and our future generations deserve.

    National Nurses United (NNU) Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro:

    There can be no doubt that the appalling display of white supremacy and hatred on display in Charlottesville today was the precipitator of the violence. As a society, it is incumbent upon all of us to forcefully repudiate all expressions of white supremacy, racial hatred and bigotry. Anyone familiar with the history of how white supremacy has stained our nation and our democracy can not be surprised that continued expressions of that virulent philosophy would lead to violence today. All of our nation’s elected leaders, starting in the White House, have a responsibility to condemn racial hatred and the violence it encourages, and disassociate from those promoting it.

    North Carolina AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan :

    The North Carolina State AFL-CIO condemns white supremacy. It is a tool used by those who want to divide and conquer people who would otherwise work together to secure their freedom and their fair share, which is why the labor movement is committed to addressing racism and bigotry within our own ranks and in our larger society. All of us including President Trump have a moral obligation to speak out against not only racist, fascist violence but also the racist, fascist ideology behind such violence—an ideology which thrives on silence and inaction, particularly that of white people like me. We cannot expect our black and brown brothers and sisters to both bear the burden of white supremacy and do the work of dismantling it because this is our fight too and together we can triumph over hatred. Lest we forget, when Adolf Hitler was consolidating his power, Nazis specifically came after union members because they feared the inclusiveness and collective strength of a united labor movement. By building a broad, inclusive movement, we can overcome the forces trying to divide us, and that is what we intend to do.

    Pride At Work Co-Presidents Shellea Allen and Tim Schlittner and Executive Director Jerame Davis:

    Pride at Work stands firmly against all forms of white supremacy and terrorism in this country and around the world. What we saw on Saturday in Charlottesville was a horrible act of bigotry and hate and a reminder that we have a lot of work to dismantle all forms of white supremacy that are still present today.

    We cannot achieve racial justice without economic justice. Pride at Work and our allies will never stop standing up to hate. We will confront evil wherever it exists. Our hearts are with the community of Charlottesville and the family of Heather D. Heyer who died standing up for what she believed in. The best way to honor her memory is to never stop organizing for economic, racial and social justice.

    UAW President Dennis Williams:

    The events in Charlottesville this weekend will long serve as a reminder that time has a way of washing away the tears of the past where hate bullied many Americans, both in society and in the workplace through intolerance.

    The UAW condemns the hate and intolerance of the alt-right groups that led to such violence in Charlottesville. Every woman and every man is equal in their civil and workplace rights regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation in society and in the workplace. We cannot take our freedom for granted, and we cannot forget the lessons that history forged through the sacrifice of many brave Americans in our military, in labor and in our civil rights struggles to secure those freedoms.

    Union Veterans Council Executive Director Will Attig:

    The actions of domestic terrorists in Charlottesville, Va., wearing U.S. military uniforms and defaced American flags spits in the face of every true American patriot who has fought or died for the better values of our nation.

    The graves on the hallowed fields of Arlington do not check to see if you are white, black, Hispanic, Jewish or Catholic. They only care about one thing, did you serve your country?

    We denounce white supremacy, Neo-Nazis, fascism and white nationalism. It's un-American. It's hateful, dangerous and dishonors hundreds of thousands of Americans who fought and died in World War II. And it has no place in our country.

    Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/15/2017 - 10:53

    NAFTA Can’t Be Fixed Behind Closed Doors

    Mon, 14 Aug 2017 15:23:26 +0000

    NAFTA Can’t Be Fixed Behind Closed Doors

    NAFTA Renegotiations

    This week, the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico will begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA.

    NAFTA, which has been governing our economy since 1994, is a bad deal. It has held down wages across North America. It has empowered global corporations to offshore jobs, shutter factories and drive small farmers out of business. It has driven away more than 850,000 U.S. jobs. It has made our economy more unequal and unfair.

    Renegotiation offers a chance to give North America’s working families a new economic deal, so that any benefits of international trade can be shared broadly instead of being captured by the largest global corporations and their CEOs.

    The first step to replacing NAFTA with a new economic deal is to negotiate in an open and transparent manner. If the proposals to fix NAFTA are only developed and discussed behind closed doors, how will ordinary people have a fair chance to review and influence these rules? If the negotiators claim we must trust them to do what’s best, but they won’t show us the new rules we will have to live under, the likelihood of a better deal is slim.

    There is an old saying in the labor movement that if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu. We can’t hold our government accountable if we don’t know what it’s doing in our name.

    Now is the time to eliminate old-style, secretive trade negotiations and usher in open, 21st-century negotiations that allow citizen participation. Isn’t that what democracy is all about anyway? Click here to send a message to your elected official about the kind of new trade deal that working people need now!

    Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:23

    The Failure of Corporate Responsibility Campaigns: The Working People Weekly List

    Fri, 11 Aug 2017 20:33:02 +0000

    The Failure of Corporate Responsibility Campaigns: The Working People Weekly List

    Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

    Why ‘Corporate Responsibility’ Campaigns Fail: "Oddly, in an age of global cosmopolitanism, 'corporate social responsibility' campaigns, and technocratic regulations, we haven’t evolved out of medieval labor practices like enslavement and child labor. But could technology hold the key to cleaning up the global supply chain?"

    Restaurant Jobs Now Dominate the Workforce. That's a Bad Thing: "Unemployment remains low, and job creation is up, according to the latest employment report. But a closer look reveals that it’s restaurant work — not the coal-mining or manufacturing Donald Trump likes to champion in speeches and on Twitter — that is bolstering the economy. A serious shift away 'from making things to serving people' is happening in America, reports the Atlantic."

    Graduate Students on These 7 Campuses Are Fighting for Their Labor Rights: "Over the past academic year, graduate students across the country were busy organizing for better working conditions. Currently, there are 33 officially recognized graduate-student unions; 23 are fighting for university recognition. With increasing tuition and plummeting wages, meager health-care benefits and overwhelming workloads, these graduate students are coming together to demand better treatment and recognition."

    School’s Out: Teachers Union Chief Randi Weingarten Says Trump Leads 'Most Anti-public-education” Administration Ever: "A strong educational system is the bedrock of a healthy democracy. There is a corollary to this fact: A poorly educated public is more likely to be tempted by tyrants, more easily seduced into believing that avarice, greed and consumerism are virtues, and will more readily betray the common good. In many ways, an educational system that does not encourage critical thinking and speaking truth to power is doing the work of authoritarianism."

    Strong as Hell: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the battles for the rights of working families in the states. Here is what the unions in the states are talking about this week. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations and labor councils on Twitter."

    In Missouri, a Race to the Bottom: "The NAACP took the unusual step this week to declare a travel advisory to African Americans for the state of Missouri. This bold action came in response to legislation passed by the Missouri Legislature limiting workers’ ability to sue over discrimination. 'With the Missouri Human Rights Act gutted, employers who want to engage in illegal workplace discrimination will have no fear of being held accountable,' Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty told Ebony magazine. 'While S.B. 43 might not quite return us to the days when businesses were free to hang 'minorities need not apply' signs in the window, it certainly reinforces the sentiment.' For that reason, the Missouri AFL-CIO opposed S.B. 43."

    Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:33

    Make Sure Your Back-to-School Supplies are Union Made

    Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:13:03 +0000

    Make Sure Your Back-to-School Supplies are Union Made

    Back to school
    Labor 411

    As sad as we will be to see summer come to an end, the approach of a new school year is an exciting time and ushers in the busiest buying season outside of the winter holidays. Get your young learners fired up for the start of school with new school supplies! Check out our list of ethically made products from companies that treat their employees fairly.

    Paper Supplies:

    • ACCO brands
    • At-A-Glance Academic Daily Planner
    • Five Star Reinforced Filler Paper
    • Industries for the Blind Inc. Composition Books
    • Mead Spiral Notebook
    • Roaring Spring Pocket Folders
    • Swingline Stapler
    • Trapper Keeper Folders
    • Wilson Jones Binders

    Keepin’ It Sanitary:

    • Kleenex Tissues


    • All USA Clothing
    • Carhartt
    • Union House Apparel
    • The Union Shop
    • Wigwam

    Quench the Thirst:

    • Crystal Springs Water
    • Gatorade
    • Minute Maid Juice
    • Mott’s Juice
    • Snapple
    • Tropicana
    • V8
    • Welch’s Juice

    This post originally appeared at Labor 411.

    Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/11/2017 - 11:13

    Preparing for the Future: What Working People Are Doing This Week

    Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:16:54 +0000

    Preparing for the Future: What Working People Are Doing This Week

    Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week.

    A. Philip Randolph Institute:

    Actors' Equity Association:




    Air Line Pilots:

    Alliance for Retired Americans:

    American Federation of Musicians:

    Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance:

    Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:

    Aviation Safety Specialists:


    Building and Construction Trades Department:

    Coalition of Black Trade Unionists:

    Communications Workers of America:

    Department for Professional Employees:

    Electrical Workers:

    Fire Fighters:


    Jobs with Justice:




    Metal Trades:

    Musical Artists:

    National Air Traffic Controllers Association:

    National Association of Letter Carriers:

    National Day Laborer Organizing Network:

    National Domestic Workers Alliance:

    National Guestworker Alliance:

    National Nurses United:

    National Taxi Workers Alliance:

    News Guild:

    NFL Players Association:

    Painters and Allied Trades:

    Pride At Work:

    Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers:


    School Administrators:

    Solidarity Center:

    Transport Workers:

    Transportation Trades Department:



    Union Label and Service Trades:


    United Steelworkers:

    United Students Against Sweatshops:

    Working America:

    Writers Guild of America, East:

    Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:16

    The Answer to Exploding Inequality: Working People Standing Together

    Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:09:12 +0000

    The Answer to Exploding Inequality: Working People Standing Together

    NYT Chart
    New York Times

    The New York Times published a chart this week that perfectly summarizes how the United States has gone from having the healthiest middle class in the world to a land of increasing economic inequality that shuts out far too many families from the American dream.

    A well-known team of inequality researchers—Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman—has been getting some attention recently for a chart it produced. It shows the change in income between 1980 and 2014 for every point on the distribution, and it neatly summarizes the recent soaring of inequality.

    The line on the chart (which we have recreated as the red line above) resembles a classic hockey-stick graph. It’s mostly flat and close to zero, before spiking upward at the end. That spike shows that the very affluent, and only the very affluent, have received significant raises in recent decades.

    While instructive, this chart leaves one very important question unanswered: Why? When you dig a little deeper into the data, one striking fact simply can’t be ignored: The decline of union membership tracks perfectly with the rise of inequality.

    In 1979, roughly 25% of all U.S. workers were union members. For those workers, that meant regular raises, decent benefits such as health care and retirement security, and workplace safety protections on the job. But even if you didn’t belong to a union, you indirectly benefited from high union density. Strong unions drove wages in nonunion industries upward, CEO-to-worker pay ratios were much lower than they are today, and there was a powerful counterbalance to corporate greed.

    But in the ensuing years, corporate special interests, backed by the politicians they bankroll, engaged in an all-out assault on unions. As union membership declined, the wages that used to go into workers’ pockets instead went straight into the bank accounts of corporate CEOs and well-heeled executives. Today, just 1 in 10 workers belongs to a union. And with current attacks through the courts and the Trump administration on working people’s freedom to stand together in unions, that number could dip even lower in coming years.

    The bottom line is this: There’s only one way out of this abyss. It’s giving working people the opportunity to stand together to negotiate with their bosses for fair wages, good benefits and a better life. All other solutions to inequality are just nibbling around the edges of the problem. Without strong unions, inequality and its disastrous consequences for our future will never go away. Time to give workers back some of the power they’ve lost. Time for America to become #UnionStrong once again.

    This post originally appeared at California Labor Federation.

    Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:09

    Strong as Hell: In the States Roundup

    Tue, 08 Aug 2017 13:36:27 +0000

    Strong as Hell: In the States Roundup

    California Labor Day
    Cal Labor Fed

    It's time once again to take a look at the battles for the rights of working families in the states. Here is what the unions in the states are talking about this week. Click on any of the links to follow the state federations and labor councils on Twitter.

    Alaska AFL-CIO:

    Arizona AFL-CIO:

    Arkansas AFL-CIO:

    California Labor Federation:

    Colorado AFL-CIO:

    Connecticut AFL-CIO:

    Georgia AFL-CIO:

    Idaho AFL-CIO:

    Illinois AFL-CIO:

    Indiana State AFL-CIO:

    Iowa Federation of Labor:

    Kansas State AFL-CIO:

    Kentucky State AFL-CIO:

    Massachusetts AFL-CIO:

    Michigan AFL-CIO:

    Minnesota AFL-CIO:

    Missouri AFL-CIO:

    Montana AFL-CIO:

    Nevada State AFL-CIO:

    New Hampshire AFL-CIO:

    New York State AFL-CIO:

    North Carolina State AFL-CIO:

    Ohio AFL-CIO:

    Oregon AFL-CIO:

    Pennsylvania AFL-CIO:

    Virginia AFL-CIO:

    Washington State Labor Council:

    West Virginia AFL-CIO:

    Wisconsin State AFL-CIO:

    Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 08/08/2017 - 09:36

    In Missouri, a Race to the Bottom

    Fri, 04 Aug 2017 18:41:46 +0000

    In Missouri, a Race to the Bottom


    The NAACP took the unusual step this week to declare a travel advisory to African Americans for the state of Missouri. This bold action came in response to legislation passed by the Missouri Legislature limiting workers’ ability to sue over discrimination. "With the Missouri Human Rights Act gutted, employers who want to engage in illegal workplace discrimination will have no fear of being held accountable," Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty told Ebony magazine. "While S.B. 43 might not quite return us to the days when businesses were free to hang 'minorities need not apply' signs in the window, it certainly reinforces the sentiment." For that reason, the Missouri AFL-CIO opposed S.B. 43.

    Since legislators in Missouri passed a "right to work" law undermining the freedom of workers to negotiate for a better life, they have continued to expand these unfair attacks. Earlier this year, they overturned local powers to set minimum wages, effectively lowering the wage floor in St. Louis from $10 an hour to $7.70. This will have a major impact in one of the nation’s poorest cities.

    Right to work is deeply rooted in racism. A 1915 South Carolina law mandated total racial segregation in textile mills, from separate bathrooms, entrances, punch clocks and even windows. This was the real agenda of right to work: preventing the appearance of equality that cross-racial membership in a union implies. Vance Muse, the greatest advocate for right to work, made his sentiment clear about the failings of the Wagner Act: "From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call 'brother' or lose their jobs." The result of this animus is that black workers are more likely to live in states with right to work laws, the lowest minimum wages and the least access to unemployment insurance.

    Yet the problem does not stop there. Right to work states are highest in incarceration, lowest in per student investment in education and lowest in supporting the incomes of single mothers. People misconceive these problems to only affect communities of color, which causes elected leaders to manipulate this into a wedge issue that will pass over white workers. Union members know that nothing could be further from the truth.

    The problem doesn’t start or stop with state-sanctioned discrimination, and it is more than black workers who need to be on guard while traveling to Missouri. The state is racing to the bottom—a race that hurts all workers.

    At the bottom of these worst practices now is Mississippi, a state whose laws insure it will continue to have the highest poverty rate in the nation. Today, the brave workers at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, can strike a blow against the poverty machine. Rather than be meek, they are standing up. They get the vote they have fought so hard for to have their own voice—to bargain as equals with their bosses and start the process of reversing trends.

    "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent." —Martin Luther King Jr.

    Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:41

    Medicare for All: The Working People Weekly List

    Fri, 04 Aug 2017 18:01:43 +0000

    Medicare for All: The Working People Weekly List


    Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

    In Missouri, a Race to the Bottom: "The NAACP took the unusual step this week to declare a travel advisory to African Americans for the state of Missouri. This bold action came in response to legislation passed by the Missouri Legislature limiting workers’ ability to sue over discrimination. 'With the Missouri Human Rights Act gutted, employers who want to engage in illegal workplace discrimination will have no fear of being held accountable,' Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty told Ebony magazine. 'While S.B. 43 might not quite return us to the days when businesses were free to hang 'minorities need not apply' signs in the window, it certainly reinforces the sentiment.' For that reason, the Missouri AFL-CIO opposed S.B. 43."

    Counterpoint: How We Invest in Our Infrastructure Matters: "Strong infrastructure and a well-functioning transportation system are vital to the health of our economy, but for too long we’ve treated our infrastructure as though it doesn’t matter. And for too long, working people have paid the price."

    AFL-CIO Executive Council Backs Medicare for All: "The council’s health care statement, issued from the three-day meeting in late July at the George Meany Center in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md., first denounced congressional Republicans for trashing the Affordable Care Act."

    While Boeing Touts Profits, Workforce Shrinks: "Boeing executives are gushing over the company’s stock, up a whopping 58% over the last 12 months. Washington state’s homegrown aerospace giant left the Paris Air Show with 571 orders worth $75 billion. Its chief competitor, Airbus, had 336."

    The Economy Adds 209,000 Jobs in July, and Unemployment Little Changed at 4.3%: "The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, and unemployment was little changed at 4.3%, according to figures released this morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This continues the recovery of the labor market at a tempered rate, which means the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee should continue to let the economy grow and not raise interest rates."

    Joe Smith Jr.: Laborer by Day, Boxing Champion by Night: "Quick, what's the first thing you think of when you hear about a boxer who holds the World Boxing Council international light heavyweight championship and who sent boxing legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement with a TKO that literally knocked Hopkins out of the ring? You certainly wouldn't think of Joe Smith Jr., the boxer who ended Hopkins' career and who is an active member of Laborers (LIUNA) Local 66."

    Bull Connor, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Labor Movement: "In the first week of May 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. faced a painful dilemma as he sought to conclude the great Birmingham, Ala., campaign. The labor movement helped solve this dilemma and a great civil rights victory was won. Jerome A. 'Buddy' Cooper, my mentor in the Birmingham union law firm where I worked years later, told me and others of his small but fascinating role in these events. It’s a story of how our labor movement has sometimes lived up to its role in the larger civil and human rights movement."

    Organizing in Digital Media Continues to Grow: Worker Wins: "Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a hard-fought victory at The New School. Other successes include the growing trends of digital media newsrooms organizing and progressive organizations living up to their professed values by voluntarily recognizing employees who choose to join together for collective bargaining purposes."

    Black Women's Equal Pay Day: "Today, we commiserate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. The gap between the earnings of black women and white men is so large that, essentially, up to today black women have been working for free. Think of it as the modern-day equivalent of the constitutional count of slaves as three-fifths of a person."

    A Big Week for Your Health Care: "Sometimes failure is a good thing. That was especially true last week when the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation repealing the Affordable Care Act. It meant that Congress was stopped from taking health care away from tens of millions of Americans, at least for now."

    ‘Skinny Repeal’ and the Senate Health Debate: "Yesterday, two major proposals that would have rolled back the Affordable Care Act’s progress in expanding coverage were defeated by bipartisan majorities. Senate leadership is now pulling together a so-called 'skinny' bill, which they hope will attract the 50 votes needed to pass the chamber and move to a conference committee with the House."

    AFL-CIO Honors Korean Labor Leader Han with Human Rights Award, Call for His Release from Prison: "President Han Sang-gyun of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions has spent his life fighting for the rights of workers and has paid a high price. Han has been in jail since December 2015, serving a three-year sentence for defending trade union rights and fighting back against corporate corruption and the repressive government of former President Park Geun-hye. For his perseverance in the face of anti-democratic repression, the AFL-CIO Executive Council this week honored President Han with the AFL-CIO’s annual George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award, and joined the global labor movement in calling for his release."

    Republican Joint Employer Legislation Takes Away Worker Freedoms: "In our fragmented workplaces with perma-temps, contracted workers, agency employees and subcontracting, we must be vigilant so every worker is protected and paid fairly, and that goes double when it comes to protecting the freedom to stand in unity for better pay and working conditions."

    Trump Administration Attacks Overtime Pay: "The Trump administration has begun a process to undo President Obama’s overtime pay rule and deny working people a pay raise."

    Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 08/04/2017 - 14:01


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